The Powerful Allure of the Deep Azure – Facts So Romantic

There was a place in Iowa in 1995, tucked away in the dark-green fields of soybeans and corn, where a flooded rock quarry shimmered aquamarine. I stood on its edge one hot summer day with two friends. Like most teenagers, we were drawn to the rebelliousness of it. To get there, we had to trespass on private land and ignore the “swimming forbidden by law” signs. But really, we wanted to experience something that we had only seen on postcards. “It was a beautiful oasis,” remembers one friend. “Like lagoons in Hawaii,” recalls another.

Composite photograph of a quarryElena Dorfman

We removed our shoes and chose a low point of entry. Our bare feet crumbled the soft limestone composed of brachiopods, crinoids, and trilobites, ancient creatures that once lived in the shallow seas covering Iowa millions of years ago. (The geological twist being that the state is now landlocked, and these remnants of its prehistoric sea life pave the local secondary roads.) We jumped in.

We weren’t the only ones drawn to forbidden blue water. Open-pit quarries exist in many rural regions of the world, and they often entice swimmers who don’t have easy access to the sea. But quarries are <a…

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